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Harlow MP Robert Halfon urges government over rail improvements

Politics / Thu 13th Nov 2014 pm30 01:07pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has urged the government to look at value for money, overcrowded trains, and upgrading carriages on the West Anglia Main Line, which links Harlow to London, and Stansted Airport. Minister for Transport, Claire Perry, then agreed to meet with Robert to discuss his concerns more fully, and see what more could be done.

During a Parliamentary debate, Robert spoke of how many Harlow residents complain about severe overcrowding on their morning commute, the need to refurbish the trains on the route, and upgrade Harlow and the surrounding village’s stations.

He said:

“My constituents, many of whom commute from Harlow and surrounding villages to London, regularly complain of serious overcrowding on trains to Liverpool Street station, despite ticket prices continuing to increase. Does the Minister agree that, in addition to improvements to the Great Eastern main line, more investment is needed across the east of England and Essex and on the West Anglia main line in order to increase capacity on commuter trains and to ensure that commuters receive value for money? We need to invest not only in rolling stock, but in stations across Essex and the east of England, such as Harlow Mill, Sawbridgeworth, Roydon and, obviously, the main Harlow Town station. The smaller stations are badly in need of refurbishment and do not offer adequate protection from poor weather. Will the Minister look into that?

Many commuters frequently raise with me the fact that it is cheaper to travel by London underground from Epping rather than by train from Harlow. In some cases, it costs £25 a day rather than £50. I have just spoken about increasing capacity, but the Stansted Express should stop at Harlow more often and we need better rolling stock. We also need a proper move towards Oyster-isation and the smart-card system that has been promised to us in the past. ”

Minister for Transport, Claire Perry, responded:

As my hon. Friend Robert Halfon pointed out, there is under-investment right across the railway network. In the past 20 years, we have seen record numbers of passengers taking record numbers of journeys. In some cases, however, the railways have kept up. Satisfaction, punctuality and safety have all increased, and EU figures found that we have the most improved railway in Europe. Despite that, extraordinary growth in demand coupled with a lag in infrastructure investment means that we face overcrowding in some parts of the country and areas where journey times may increase. The great thing is that, as a coalition Government, we are finally realising the vital role of investment in transport infrastructure. We are seeing record levels of railway investment and the biggest investment in rail and rolling stock since Victorian times, with £38 billion being spent over the next five years on maintaining, upgrading and improving the network.

Robert Halfon has previously raised similar issues in Parliament, and in October he met with Greater Anglia who pledged to improve cleanliness and communication with passengers, as well as rolling out a smartcard scheme.

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